Will and inheritance
Picture of Nicolò Bolla

Nicolò Bolla

Will and Inheritance in Italy

Becoming a resident of Italy will also impact your estate. What happens if you die in Italy? 

You should take this question seriously, and find out the consequences of dying in Italy.

Will and inheritance
Will and inheritance

Which law is applicable if you die in Italy?

Prior answering this question, it is important to understand where the deceased had his/her place of habitual residency.

The place of habitual residency is defined as the place where the deceased had the most personal and economic ties, as well as the intent to live in a certain place.

The rule of thumb is that the applicable law to a deceased person in Italy is the Italian law. Which means that the estate will be split to the issue according to the Italian law, as well as the taxation rules will be the Italian ones.

This can create some headaches to the heirs if they live overseas since the estate has to be dealt in Italy, in the Italian language, and it is likely to require attorneys to manage it.

For EU citizens however, the EU regulation 650/2012 takes place, providing a break through to the Italian norms.

EU Inheritance regulation 650/2021

This is a breakthrough regulation aimed at simplifying the process of dealing with the estate. EU citizens residing in a foreign country can write a will choosing to treat the estate under the law of the country of origin (you can’t pick a random country).

In this scenario, a German citizen living in Italy can opt to apply German laws to his estate.

Note that this election applies to the whole estate, involving all the assets and liabilities anywhere located in the world. 

It is therefore crucial to write a valid will, and to elect the applicable legislation to the whole estate. In absence of that, the estate will be treated as Italian based.

If any of the heirs lives outside of Italy, and within the EU, in order to access the Italian assets of the estate, he/she must obtain a EU Certificate of Succession. You can get a European Certificate of Succession from a court in the EU country with the power to rule on the inheritance, or from another competent authority – for example, a notary – in the same country.

The authority that issues the European Certificate of Succession will keep the original and will issue certified copies to the heir, executor of the will or administrator of the estate, valid for a period of 6 months, which can be extended.

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